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Poster: Moongleam Date: Aug 13, 2010 8:10am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Copyright on British films

Video-Cellar's opinion is that GATT didn't restore the copyrights on British films that were in the public domain, i.e., films that were made before 1946. See his post:
http://www.archive.org/post/236219/another-list-of-movies-in-question

I found some more information on this topic here:
http://www.britmovie.co.uk/forums/topic/4738-public-domain-british-films-and-copyright/page__st__60

This has been discussed before on this forum, what is unclear is
whether the 1996 EC directive that extended copyright on film was
applied retrospectively or not. The common assumption is that it was,
but a reply to a question in the House of Lords suggested that the new
rules only applied to films still protected by copyright on 1st
January 1996, and was not intended to be applied retrospectively. If
so, films out of copyright on 1st January 1996(ie. those that were
released on or before 31st December 1945) are no longer under
copyright.

As has already been said, this interpretation of the EC directive has
not been tested in a court of law so the position is unclear. What I
do find surprising is why copyright holders are not taking action
against all those sellers offering boxed sets of the films of Old
Mother Riley, Arthur Askey, george Formby etc on ebay, if these films
genuinely are still in copyright. This seems a fairly blatant
infringement which seems to be being ignored, why is this happening if
copyrights are being broken?


The law wasn't explicitly retroactive. If it is assumed to be, then the only British films in the public domain are very old silent movies.

Of course, some pre-1946 British films wouldn't be p.d. in the U.S. in either case, because their copyrights were renewed here. For example, Rembrandt (1936):

REMBRANDT, a photoplay in nine reels
by London Film Productions.
(C) 27Nov36; LP6882. London Film
Productions, Ltd. (PWH); 220ct64;
R3">>726l.

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Aug 14, 2010 12:42am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

The current copyright terms for films in the UK, which was introduced in 1996 EU directive ammendments, applies only to films that are protected under the terms of the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act (films published after 1 August 1989).

The 1988 Act specifically excludes films protected under the previous copyright acts. These include
- Films published between 1 June 1957 and 31 July 1989 are protected under the 1956 Copyright Act (flat copyright term of 50 calender years from publication).
- Films registered and published before 1 June 1957 are protected under the 1956 Copyright Act for 50 calendar years from registration under the Cinematograph Films Act.
- Films from before 1 June 1957 that weren't registered under the Cinematograph Films Act are protected under the 1911 Copyright Act as a combination of images and dramatic works from 50 calendar years from the date of death of the first contributing author or the actual year of death for the last surviving contributing author, whichever occurs later.

This is from the Transitional (Schedule 1) Provisions of the current UK copyright law:

------

12 (1) The following provisions have effect with respect to the duration of copyright in existing works. The question which provision applies to a work shall be determined by reference to the facts immediately before commencement; and expressions used in this paragraph which were defined for the purposes of the 1956 Act have the same meaning as in that Act.

(2) Copyright in the following descriptions of work continues to subsist until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act -

(a) literary, dramatic or musical works in relation to which the period of 50 years mentioned in the proviso to section 2(3) of the 1956 Act (duration of copyright in works made available to the public after the death of the author) has begun to run;

(b) engravings in relation to which the period of 50 years mentioned in the proviso to section 3(4) of the 1956 Act (duration of copyright in works published after the death of the author) has begun to run;

(c) published photographs and photographs taken before 1st June 1957;

(d) published sound recordings and sound recordings made before 1st June 1957;

(e) published films and films falling within section 13(3)(a) of the 1956 Act (films registered under former enactments relating to registration of films).

------

Section 13(3)a of the 1956 act specifically related to applying the 50 year term to "films" registered under the Cinematographic Films Acts and any other act related to the registrations of films. The copyright for these films was to last for 50 calender years after the year of registration. As it was illegal to publically screen a film without registration, most films from 1927 onwards were registered.

As schedule 1.12.2 (e) was not revoked by the EU copyright extensions (many transitional provisions in Schedule 1 were, but not this one) this clause confirms that all published and registered films, made, published and registered before the 1988 act became effective, have a flat copyright term of 50 calendar years from publication or registration date. Thus, any British film that was published and registered before 1946, and was public domain in the US before GATT/URAA, remains in the public domain in the US.

This post was modified by Video-Cellar on 2010-08-14 07:42:58

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Poster: Moongleam Date: Aug 14, 2010 6:07am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

Thanks, Video-Cellar.

"Thus, any British film that was published and registered before 1946, and was public domain in the US before GATT/URAA, remains in the public domain in the US."

And remains in the public domain in the UK, if I understand correctly.


Let me try to apply this to two movies: Alastair Sim's Waterloo Road (1945) and Will Hay's My Learned Friend (1943).

There seems to be no US renewal for the latter, but there's one for the former:

WATERLOO ROAD, a photoplay in 8 reels
by Gainsborough Pictures. (C) 7Feb45;
L2249. Rank Film Distributors, Ltd.
(PWH); 7Apr72; R532735.

So the Sim movie is still copyrighted but the Hay film isn't. I couldn't find a renewal for any of Will Hay's movies:

My Learned Friend (1943)
The Goose Steps Out (1942)
The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942)
The Big Blockade (1942)
Go to Blazes (1942)
The Ghost of St. Michael's (1941)
Where's That Fire? (1940)
Ask a Policeman (1939)
Hey! Hey! USA (1938)
Convict 99 (1938)
Old Bones of the River (1938)
Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937)
Good Morning, Boys (1937)
Windbag the Sailor (1936)
Where There's a Will (1936)
Boys Will Be Boys (1935)
Dandy Dick (1935)
Those Were the Days (1934)
Radio Parade of 1935 (1934)

It seems that too many people in the UK think that these are still under copyright. After I uploaded Ask a Policeman, a reviewer wrote:

It's just shame that its NOT in the Public Domain, the only Will Hay film that is approaching been in the Public Domain is Wheres That Fire.

So possibly a slight issue of copyright theft I guess

UPDATE:

Cinema films: Theatrical prints of the nine Gainsborough films (released on the Granada (formerly VCI/Cinema Club/Carlton) label) are distributed by Granada International. The other films are owned and distributed by Canal+, part of Universal Studios.



So all British talkies released before 1946 that weren't renewed in U.S.A. can be uploaded here. That must be quite a list.

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Poster: billbarstad Date: Aug 15, 2010 5:58am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

So Rembrandt (1936) isn't PD. Too many ups and downs on that one!

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Aug 15, 2010 6:39am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

No, its still PD. The lack of a valid notice renders the registration & renewal invalid. So "Rembrandt" was PD in the US before GATT and copyright was not restored because the film was not eligible for restoration.

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Poster: HektorT Date: Aug 16, 2010 4:28am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

It's been ruled in the US 9th Circuit Court that lack of a valid notice on a film first published outside of the USA means that for the purposes of copyright law it was never published in the US at all. That means it would have common law copyright protection and is not Public Domain. But if the notice was added at anytime before 1978 then standard rules would apply and it could be PD. This ruling has never been challenged or tested elsewhere in the USA so it's not certain that it would hold up, but many people respect it as the current law, nonetheless. As a result, for GATT films the copyright notice requirement is somewhat reversed.

In this case since the film was actually registered, so maybe that will change the status as the owner obviously attempted to publish the film.

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Poster: Moongleam Date: Aug 16, 2010 11:15am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

"That means it would have common law copyright protection and is not Public Domain."

How long would that copyright last? It seems that any copyright gained in 1943, for example, would expire after 28 years unless it was renewed. So My Learned Friend is PD whether it had a valid notice or not.


This post was modified by Moongleam on 2010-08-16 18:15:02

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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Aug 18, 2010 7:34pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

According to section 104A(h) of the present U.S. Copyright Act, in a passage added by Public Law 103-465 (effective date of December 8, 1994):

"(6) The term 'restored work' means an original work of authorship that--
"[...]
"(C) is in the public domain in the United States due to--
"(i) noncompliance with formalities imposed at any time by United States copyright law, including failure of renewal, lack of proper notice, or failure to comply with any manufacturing requirements;"

"Restored work" is the term applying to foreign works previously not under copyright in the U.S. which gained copyright protection through the combination of (a) the above-named 1994 act, and (b) having copyright protection in the country of origin.

From the wording of 104A(h)(6)(C)(i) quoted above, it looks like as long as a British film without a copyright notice (such as "Rembrandt," cited above) enjoyed copyright protection in its own country, it doesn't matter that copyright was at one time lost in the U.S., it was able to get copyright protection under URAA/GATT--since that lack of copyright notice was merely a past-times "noncompliance with formalities."

The first question this raises in my mind is: Was there a rule in place in the U.K. in the 1930s and 1940s that required a work (film or otherwise) to have a copyright notice in order to enjoy British copyright? If not, the film enjoyed British copyright, and it seems that 104A(h)(6)(i) gives it American copyright as well.

If U.K. law of the 1930s and 1940s DID mandate a copyright notice for there to be copyright protection, then the question comes as to whether the film gained British copyright some other way. This is important because, although 104A(h)(6)(i) could be interpreted to give copyright protection to a British film without a copyright notice (contingent upon date of publication, etc.), elsewhere in 104A, it's stated that American copyright won't be conferred on a foreign work via 104A if the work has already exhausted its copyright protection in the country of origin.

Thanks go to Video-Cellar for U.K. law passages that he quotes in his post of August 14, 2010 12:42:58am.

This post was modified by Fact_Checker on 2010-08-19 02:34:04

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Poster: billbarstad Date: Aug 15, 2010 7:34am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

This stuff gets me confused, obviously. Thanks for the clarification. I'm glad I won't need to have it pulled!

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Poster: simonc3000 Date: Dec 14, 2010 11:56am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

What about US Films like King Kong (1933) ?

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Poster: billbarstad Date: Aug 13, 2010 9:23am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

I just checked, and Rembrandt (1936) is still PD because there is no copyright notice in the film.

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Poster: Moongleam Date: Aug 13, 2010 9:40am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

Interesting.

Anyway, the reason I started this thread is that someone posted a review of "Ask a Policeman" here in which it is asserted that the film is under copyright.

I hope that Video-Cellar is right.

Does anyone else have information relevant to this question?

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Poster: Blade_Runner Date: Aug 13, 2010 6:38pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

I did some in depth research and have determined that is not is PD.

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Poster: elmagno Date: Aug 13, 2010 8:15pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright on British films

I taught time travel on the galactic level.